Ranchi: After being denied permission to contest elections from reserved seats, two women who settled in Jharkhand after marriage have decided to boycott the panchayat elections.
Anguished at the “discriminatory” treatment, Mala Khalkho from Chaibasa said she boycotted the elections and decided not to vote on May 19, when third phase of voting will take place.
“I will not vote for a government that cannot guarantee my right to residence and caste, the government that has reduced us to migrants,” Khalkho said. Born in Odisha’s Sundargarh district, Mala has been living in the state for 24 years and was disallowed from contesting the ongoing panchayat elections for mukhiya post this time despite being a panchayat samiti winner previously in the 2011 elections.
Social activist from Simdega, Taramani Sahu has also declared that she won’t be polling. “I will continue the fight for our rights, if voting is a fundamental right, so is contesting elections.” Sahu was barred from filing her nominations from reserved category during the nomination process.
However, some women have decided to hold on to their franchise rights by casting their votes despite being denied permission to contest election. Godda district’s Cathreen Tudu was married in 1989. The 43-year-old’s nomination was cancelled during the scrutiny on April 25 for being a daughter-in-law in Jharkhand. Tudu cast her vote on May 14, “I felt very hurt as I stood there as a voter while I envisioned myself contesting the elections this year. Everyone at the polling booth expressed their disappointment at the state level decision.”
Rebeka Marandi who had previously contested elections in 2015 also suffered the same fate and was disqualified from the election process. “I cast my vote on May 14 but I feel that justice has been denied to me.”
Meanwhile, the Personnel department has replied to the state election commission’s (SEC) letters of the complaints from women nominees who were denied contesting elections. In a letter to the SEC, the department has said that women will not be entitled to contest elections from reserved seats on the basis of marriage. However, they can contest elections from their home state. The state EC secretary, Radhe Shyam Prasad said, “The letters from the department arrived after the procedure of nominations and scrutiny were over.”

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